The aim of
this laboratory experiment was to investigate the relationship
between eye movements and dreaming.
The study had
There will be a
significant association between REM sleep and dreaming.
- There will be a significant positive correlation between the
estimate of the duration of dreams and the length of
There will be a significant
association between the pattern of eye movement and the context
of the dream
participants were seven adult males and two adult females.
Five were studied intensively, while only a small amount of data was
collected on the other four just to back up the findings of the main
participants were studied under controlled laboratory conditions,
whereby they reported to the laboratory just before their usual
bedtime. They had been asked to eat normally but to avoid caffeine
or alcohol on the day of the study. The participants went to bed in
a quiet, dark room.
electroencephalograph (EEG) was used to amplify and record the
signals of electrodes which were attached to the participants face
and scalp. Two or more electrodes were attached near to the
participantsí eyes to record electrical changes caused by eye
movement. Two or three further electrodes were attached to the
scalp to record brain activity which indicated the participantsí
depth of sleep. The participants then went to bed in a quiet, dark
times during the night (both during REM and N-REM sleep) the
participants were awakened to test their dream recall. The
participants were woken up by a loud doorbell ringing close to their
bed. The participant then had to speak into a tape recorder near
the bed. They were instructed to first state whether or not they
had been dreaming and then, if they could, to report the content of
Results relating to hypothesis 1 (there will be a significant association between REM
sleep and dreaming)
show that REM sleep is predominantly, though not exclusively,
associated with dreaming, and N-REM sleep is associated with periods
of non-dreaming sleep.
dream recall in N-REM awakenings occurred within eight minutes of an
REM, suggesting that the dream might have been remembered from the
Results relating to hypothesis 2 (there will be a significant positive correlation
between the estimate of the duration of dreams and the length of
The series of
awakenings which were carried out to see if the participants could
accurately estimate the length of their dreams revealed that all the
participants were able to choose the correct dream duration fairly
accurately, except for one participant who could only recall the
latter part of the dream and so underestimated its length.
Results relating to hypothesis 3
(there will be a significant association between the pattern of eye
movement and the context of the dream)
appear to be some relationship between the dream content and the
type of eye movements. For example, periods of pure
vertical or horizontal eye movements were rare, but when the
participant was woken up after a series of vertical eye
movements they reported dreams such as:
at the bottom of a cliff operating a hoist, and looking up at
the climbers, and down at the hoist machinery.
climbing up a series of ladders looking up and down as he
throwing basketballs at a net, first shooting and looking
up at the net, and then looking down to pick another ball off
In the only
instance of horizontal eye movements, the dreamer was
watching two people throwing tomatoes at each other.